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Damian Priest discusses WrestleMania, influences of Scott Hall and the Undertaker

KTRE's Caleb Beames talks with WWE wrestler Damian Priest, who is favored to win this Friday's...
KTRE's Caleb Beames talks with WWE wrestler Damian Priest, who is favored to win this Friday's Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 2:19 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - WWE Superstars are in Texas now for the biggest week of the year for wrestling and sports entertainment.

WrestleMania 38 will take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Saturday and Sunday. WWE will also run NXT Stand and Deliver, Friday Night SmackDown, the WWE Hall of Fame and Monday Night Raw in the metroplex area.

The week heats up on Friday with the “go home” show of SmackDown which is set to feature the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. One of the favorites to win the match is Damian Priest.

“I found out I was in it like everyone else did these days, on social media,” Priest said. “I am excited. I’d like to not just participate but win it. It is another notch in your legacy that you can be proud of. Sometimes battle royals are overlooked because there are so many people in them but this one is worth it.”

This will be the second WrestleMania weekend Priest has been involved in. Last year he teamed with music celebrity Bad Bunny to the Miz and John Morrison in a tag team match.

“I remember leading up thinking, ‘We are going to shock so many people.’” I knew it ws going to work because he had put in the work but there are still those nerves. “There is a difference between a trained professional that has been doing this for years compared to someone who has trained for a few months trying to have the debut match at WrestleMania, also while teaming with someone who is in his debut at WrestleMania.”

It has been a few bitter sweet weeks for Priest leading up to the event. Priest will be in attendance to watch his ,childhood hero The Undertaker be inducted into the Hall of Fame while also getting two bits of bad news along the way - the death of Scott Hall and the retirement announcement of Triple H.

“[Undertaker] is another one of those heroes that I am glad I got to meet,” Priest said. “When i was a kid in Puerto Rico just watching him. That emotion he got out of me is why I fell in love with the business. Then I wanted people to feel that emotion because of me. Blame the Undertaker if you do not like me because he is the reason I am here.”

Priest has used those emotions from the Undertaker to build his dark character and has even been able to get one on one advice from the legend.

“At the performance Center I got to meet him,” Priest said. “He critiqued me and watched matches back with me. At the Royal Rumble I was at catering and he sat down next to me and was like, ‘Hey. Mind if I give you some advice,’ and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ He just started giving me pointers and he had no reason. He could have walked past e and sat with legends but he wanted to take a second and give me a little bit of advice.”

The Undertaker may have been why Priest fell in love with the business but Triple H is the reason why Priest has been able to make it to the top of professional wrestling. Triple H took built up WWE’s developmental brand, NXT and brought in Priest to be one of the main characters. Behind the scenes Triple H is WWE’s Executive Vice President of Global Talent Strategy and Deveolopment. Earlier this year he suffered a heart attack and last week officially announced his in-ring career was over.

“NXT could have been around but it would not have been like the way it was,” Priest said. “Damian Priest is something that me and him came up with so without him I don’t know if I am here to be honest. He is the one that said I want him to come into the company.”

“The news is sad selfishly as a fan,” Priest said. “As a performer I wish I could have got in the ring with him and do something. I do not think anyone feels sad because he has literally given us everything. What else can he do in the ring for us. He has done everything for us to the point that it almost cost him everything. I’d rather have him around to speak to him and pick his brain then to see him preform.”

From his entrance walk to several moves, shades of the late Scott Hall, who also went by Razor Ramon, can be seen in priest. Hall, a WWE Hall of Famer, recently died.

“I wanted to be a WWE superstar just like the Undertaker, but Razor Ramon - I wanted to be that in real life,” Priest said. “That swag and charisma. I wanted to walk the street like that. He would come out smirking and smiling.  Bad guys did not do that. They came out screaming and hollering. He was cool, calm and collected. Even the suffer walk. It was so many mannerisms. You hated him but at the same time you couldn’t stop watching him to ,’I kind of like him’ to ‘I love him and I want to see him beat up the other guy and he is the man.’  That was Scott Hall and I wanted to be him at school and at the grocery store.”

Priest said he grew to appreciate the work of Hall more as he got in the business and the ‘Bad Guy’ was one of the heroes he did not regret meeting.

“I became cool with him and he would give me advice,” Priest said. “He would joke with me. It is wild the relationships I have forged while in WWE. He was one of my favorites and it touched me more because he was so cool to me.”

Priest hopes over the weekend in the metroplex that he and other superstars can please the current fans and win over new fans.

" We are going to give you a rollercoaster of emotions that are all positive, exciting and two nights where we will give you a fireworks show, musical performances, celebrities, drama and action,” Priest said. “You are going to do it with 60,70, 80 thousand people having the time of their lives. That is contagious and you are going to enjoy it.”

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